Saturday, March 06, 2010

15 - 11: Mersey Paradise

A distinct North-West flavour to this batch of songs, for which I make no can you not be affected by the sounds you hear on your own doorstep?

15:  Feels Like Growin' Up - Amsterdam

I have written on many occasions about the wonderful Amsterdam (and Pele, their predecessor band, about whom more later) and will no doubt continue to do so - how this band are not massive continues to amaze me.  Still, Ian Prowse continues to do what he has always done - which is to make music from the heart and from the soul.  Feels Like Growin' Up is one of the band's more affecting songs and a huge audience favourite from their early days.  I remember seeing them in Liverpool a while ago, down by the front with The Boy, as usual.  The group's regular photographer was stood next to us, the other side of the barrier in the 'pit'.  This bloke must have seen them hundreds of times - yet when I glanced over to him while the group were playing this song, he was stood there in floods of tears.  It gets you - every time.

14:  Raid The Palace - Pele

Ok, it's the same singer/songwriter, but it's a different band so I'm having it in here.  They are my rules anyway so I can tweak them if I want!  Pele were the band that so nearly made it in the '80s.  Again, led by Ian Prowse and cut from similar cloth to Amsterdam - and just as good.  This was their 'hit record' - number one in South Africa, I'll have you know (and at the time probably the last country Ian would have wanted it to be number one in).  Unlike Feels Like Growin' Up above, this is a song of defiance, almost a manifesto if you like.  Ian was asked the other year if he would like to perform in front of The Queen as part of the 'Capital of Culture' celebrations - this is the song he should have sung if he could have brought himself to do it!

13:  Heart As Big As Liverpool - The Mighty Wah!

Unashamedly sentimental, and unfortunately claimed by the 'other' club, this is another one that gets me every time.  The Mighty Wah! is of course one of the monikers used by Pete Wylie, one of the original 'Crucial Three' (along with Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope) who came out of  the 'Eric's' scene in the early eighties but who, for whatever reason, remained a local cult (that's cult) rather than really breaking through into the big league.  He still produced a good handful of classics though (including Story of the Blues, with its defiant coda and Sinful) but this is the one that encapsulates the image of the sentimental scouser.  Yes, it's a cliché, but it's a cliché for a reason.  You are not alone...

12:  She Loves You - The Beatles

You didn't honestly think that The Fabs wouldn't be in here somewhere, did you?  Of course not.  She Loves You is probably my first musical memory (yes, I'm that old) and will forever be inextricably linked with home.  Released when The Beatles were still very much 'our' band, and the sense of pride in a group of scousers making it in the outside world was palpable.  And how could I not identify strongly with a left-hander called Paul?  But leaving all that to one side, She Loves You is a fantastic pop song that has probably never been bettered.  From the opening drum role to the final 'Yeahs', it's come and gone inside two and a half minutes, encapsulating everything good about Beatlemania on the way.  Harmonies?  Check.  'Oooooohs'?  Check.  'Yeah, yeah, yeah'?  Oh yeah.

11.  Only The Lonely - Roy Orbison

Ok, The Big O didn't come from Liverpool, but he was a huge influence on the original Merseybeat artists - in fact, Please Please Me was originally written with Orbison in mind (and was originally played slowly, in an Orbison style).  Roy was an influence on everyone though, Bruce Springsteen (as I mentioned in my earlier album blog), Elvis Costello, Tom Waits to name just three.  But although he influenced loads of people, no-one ever sounded like Roy Orbison...because no-one else could sound like Roy Orbison.  Roy was not the most attractive of gentlemen, and maybe this was reflected in his material - often downbeat, often written from the viewpoint of the loser.  Even when Roy got the girl (Oh Pretty Woman, Running Scared) it was always a surprise to him, counter to his expectations.  Great songs, but Roy was at his best when singing about loss, and never better than here - it's the contrast between his vocal and the 'dum dum dum dummy doo wah' backing that I love.  We all know the way Roy is feeling tonight, because we've all been lonely at some point.

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